The Long Walk to Freedom

This week is the first of a two week school holiday in Victoria, Australia and no doubt it will highlight the ongoing quest for freedom. Part of growing up is an increased independence which might look like

  • the ability to go to town on their own or with a group of friends
  • to stay home alone during the day
  • to have friends round whilst parents are at work
  • to dramatically extend the time when they can return home or go to bed

Of course these discussions are an ongoing part of parenting but they are brought into sharper focus during school holidays. Partly because the mantra ‘you have school tomorrow’ doesn’t apply and also because many 87562240parents are unable to take time off work every school holiday. So, on a purely practical basis, some additional freedom needs to be offered.

Depending on your relationship (and their age) will determine both the outcome and the nature of the discussion/negotiation. I will never presume to tell any parent what to do or where they should draw their own family line, but here are a few things to consider.

  • maybe this is a good time to relax a little and allow some additional space
  • it can be an opportunity to have a trial run to observe how they will react
  • responsibility is best learnt through trial and error and it is unlikely they will push the boundaries way beyond your limits
  • the whole idea will open up a chance to discuss the issues of responsibility, growing up, boundaries etc

Talk to other parents with similar aged children, or those with slightly older ones, and ask them how things worked for them. How old were their children when they left them alone all day, when they went to town unaccompanied, when they made their own lunch, when they had friends round.

Talk to your son or daughter about your concerns, ask them to show you respect as you allow them to do more things.

Go on – take the risk and show them your trust!

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  • Ellen

    I like your idea of a “trial run.” I think a school vacation can be a nice time (with a built-in boundary since school will start again soon!) to experiment with giving kids a little more freedom to see how they manage a new responsibility. And I completely agree with the idea of talking with your child to see how he or she feels about it, too. Open communication might very well be the most important thing a parent can work on establishing and maintaining. We eat dinner together as a family almost every night, and this has been a great way to work on our lines of communication.

    • Nigel

      Thanks for your comment, Ellen. Eating dinner as a fmaily has always been a great thing to do but, over time, seems to have been more difficult to arrange with differing schedules, sports commitments etc.

      • Ellen

        True enough! It’s not easy, but we do try to manage it as often as possible! 🙂